Children's Books, Everyday Life

Warm Reads for Winter Days

I heard on the radio yesterday that no one in the U.S. outside of cities in the northern mid-west (Chicago, Minneapolis, etc.) is allowed to complain about cold weather right now. Basically, if you don’t live in Chicago, you’re not that cold.

                    Dear Radio Station: I live in the deep South, and I’m cold.

I also heard it’s colder in most of the U.S. than it is in Alaska right now. Well. The Alaskans definitely got the better end of that climate change.

Today where I am, the temps aren’t expected to get above freezing; I am so thankful I have nowhere to go. I’m also thankful we did our library run earlier in the week and are well stocked with books to keep us entertained through the cold weekend.

Fritz and the Beautiful HorsesThere’s really nothing better to read on a cold winter’s day than a book by Jan Brett. Her Scandinavian-inspired illustrations contain furry animals and rosy-cheeked children and beautiful, warm-looking boots and skirts and mittens…ah. It’s almost enough to make you think you’re warm yourself. Our favorite right now is Fritz and The Beautiful HorsesWe read it for the first time this morning, and then both children asked, “Can we read it again?!” Fritz is a furry, short-legged pony who longs to be ridden by children. However, he has the misfortune of living near a walled city that is very proud of its beautiful horses, and only allows the most beautiful to come in. Fritz gets his chance to prove himself worthy, though, and shows the citizens that beauty isn’t the only thing of value in a horse. After the second reading, Isaac, aged 2, said longingly, “I would ride Fritz every day,” and Ella said, “Me, too!”

Cowboy Small (Lois Lenski Books)Another book we’re enjoying this week is Cowboy Small by Lois Lenski. Isaac has been asking over and over in the last week, “When I grow up, can I be a cowboy and ride a horse?” Any time your little boy asks to be a cowboy or pilot or sailor or fireman, it’s time to check out the Mr. Small books. Lenski takes readers through a day or two in the life of Mr. Small doing his work with her trademark illustrations and a few interesting details about whatever profession Mr. Small is working at in that particular book. The airplane one is a bit long for our attention span, and a little dated, but the other books are just right for a curious two-year-old boy. 

RoxaboxenFinally, we just discovered RoxaboxenYes, we live under a rock. This book is on everyone’s favorite children’s book list, but for some reason, I thought it was a poem book (which my kids are not fans of) so I never picked it up. But last week I said, “Everyone should like poetry!” and checked it out. As you probably already know, it is not at all a poetry book. Roxaboxen is an imaginative book about a group of children who make a barren hill across the street into their very own town. Roxaboxen brought me back to the days when my sister and I used to cut through the wisteria vines and thorns in our backyard woods to make “rooms” in our fort. Every kid needs a fort, even if it’s just in a closet of your city apartment. So if you’re looking for a great poetry book for kids, I can’t help you. But do read Roxaboxen, because it’s delightful. And make sure to check out other books illustrated by Barbara Cooney.

Kirsten's Surprise: A Christmas Story (American Girls: Kirsten, #3)For longer chapter books, we love to re-read chapters of Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie to make us appreciate our modern comforts and imagine what it’s like to be really cold. We haven’t made it to The Long Winter because I’m just not sure Ella can handle the…longness. I’m thinking Ella and I will read a Kirsten book from the American Girl series this afternoon for school. There’s more Scandinavian warmth to be had in Kirsten Learns A Lesson and Kirsten’s Surprise. I don’t know if I’m really on a Scandinavian kick, but I sure would like some lingonberry jam on crepes right now…

After you read some books with your kids, you need some music to get them (and you) dancing around and burning off energy/calories. We’ve been listening to the Frozen soundtrack in every waking moment for a week now. I took Ella (4) to see the movie on Sunday, and she had the whole soundtrack memorized by Wednesday. It was her first movie theater experience. We had to do a good bit of processing all the drama in the first few hours after the movie, because Ella is a very perceptive and emotionally sensitive 4-year-old (in the best possible way!), but then she decided she was a fan. Can I just say how thankful I am for a Disney Princess movie that features warm clothing? Now I can say, “Anna wears long sleeves!” when I’m trying to convince Ella to put a shirt on under her dress-up dresses. She even wears tights and boots! Awesome.

So that’s how we’re surviving the ice age/weekend. I hope you’re staying warm and reading lots of good books, too!


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